The hidden qualities of Josip Juranovic that give Celtic an unlikely emergency option

By Euan Davidson

December 2, 2021

Celtic star Josip Juranovic has been playing out of position.

This is not news, everybody knows this. A Croatian international right-back playing on the left has been a source of anxiety, or amusement, depending on your point of view.

With Anthony Ralston shoring up the right-back slot, Juranovic has had to settle for a place on the opposite side. In fairness, he’s been excellent. As explored yesterday, his tackles-to-fouls ratio is phenomenally good, and he’s still able to make accurate, dangerous passes at a fantastic rate.

Photo by Lee Smith – Pool/Getty Images

However, Josip Juranovic’ and his skill-set go even further. In a wide-ranging press conference with print media, the Croatian explained that right-back isn’t even his “natural” position.

Instead, Juranovic’s career began as a midfield player, specifically similar to the roles Callum McGregor plays now.

Juranovic explained [Herald]:

“I started in midfield, not left-back, I started as a number six or a number eight. And then I started playing for Hadjuk Split.

“Damir Buric was my coach and he said to me ‘you could make a good career as a right full-back.’

“At first I was like, “no, no way.” But then I came around and said, “okay I will accept that.”

“And because of him I am here now. He was 100 percent right.”

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Of course Celtic man Josip Juranovic started out as a midfielder; it makes total sense

You can see it, can’t you? With his physical frame, speed and deliveries, Josip Juranovic would probably still make a fine midfielder. Even if it’s been a long time since he’s played there.

Now, that provides an interesting thought for Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou. Should the Hoops need a mobile midfielder with real quality in the tackle, Juranovic is there.

It’s another way of keeping both Ralston and Juranovic happy, too. But the Croatian international is clear; his favoured position is right-back.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

You hear the cliché all the time. “I’m mad, me!”, players say, “I’ll go in goals if the manager asks me to!”. Juranovic, though, gives the impression of a player who’s genuinely malleable to what a coach needs from him.

What a resource that is. Obviously, it’s far more likely that Juranovic will end up being the number 1 right back at Celtic.

For Postecoglou, though, it’s an extra tool at his disposal should he ever need it.

Read more: The 4 crucial Celtic games this month that won’t be on live TV